Groaning slightly, Aidian stretched upright and rolled his shoulders. His back ached from the hours he had now spent pulling up root vegetables from the small patch of land his familiy tried to scrape a living from. When he had grasped his first root the sun had been no more than a sliver against the horizon and now it dipped abot an hour or two away from setting. He rubbed his blue eyes and ran a hand through his blonde hair and wiped the sweat down his thin shirt.
"Look, Aidian!" Came an excited cry from a few metres away. Turning in confusion, believing he and his father were alone in the fields, Aidian caught sight of his sister, Honora who was eight.
"Honora? What are you doing here?" He strode over with his usual confident step.
"I wanted to help." Tiumphantly, she held aloft the sweede she had taken up from the soil.
"This is the work of a man, not a girl." He said firmly but took her into his arms and swung her around, her copper hair shining and brown eyes sparkling in delight.
"But I want to help!" She giggily stamped her foot as she was set down.
"Go home. I will play later." He tried to be patient with her but he still had three rows to do and it would be dark soon. No one liked to be near the forest at night.
"But mum said-"
"Honora you cannot help here. Go home." Irritated, Aidian bent back down again and filled his hands with dry earth.
For a minute she stood there, torn whether or not to protest further but thought better of it and retreated.
"Come on son, we can do little in this light. We shall carry on tomorrow." Davit smiled warmly, spitting on his dirty hands and smearing it across his palms.
Picking up the heavy crates of vegetables, the pair headed home.
"Hello," Teria, Adian's mother, appeared from the kitchen which was one of the three rooms that made up their hovel, "Oh, where is Honora?"
"She is not here?" Davit hefted his muddy boots off.
"Nay, should she be? She went to join you a few hours ago." Worry creased her brow.
"Aye, I sent her home." The family eyes each other nervously, "I shall check the stables."
Rounding the wooden stable fences, his eyes scoured the hay-ridden floor and hopeful chestnut horse. He called out her name but got no reply. Flying back into the house, he was even more anxious as to his sister's safety.
"I'll check the brook." Once again Aidian went to the stables and this time took the horse from his stable and mounted him bareback-if Honora had lost her way in the woods he had to find her quickly.
It was still light enough for Aidian to find his way through the forest, but he was used to being in there at night, his little sister was not. Urging the horse faster, he climbed the small cliff sheered away by a long disappeared waterfall to view what he could of the woody space. From the peak, he could see nothing, it was too dark even for his accustomed eyes. Then he heard despairing breathing and saw the moonlight shining on hair just beneath him, close to the water pool.
"Honora!" He bellowed so loudly the horse flattened his ears. The figure stopped and looked up.
"Aidian! Help!" Honora's small voice drifted to him.
Turning the horse back the way he had come, he raced down to his sister.
In the gloom, he hurriedly dismounted and wrapped his arms around her small form.
"Why did you come in here?" He murmured half angrily, half in relief.
"I was angry and then I got lost and I couldn't find the road."
He held her as she cried.